Charles Stewart is eager to begin his new role as the chief of Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren and hopes to bring stability to a post that has seen three changes within 10 months.
Officials with Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates (HMA) have selected Stewart to be the new Arkansas Market CEO following the surprise departure in late May of Gary Blan. Stewart’s first day on the job is scheduled for Sept. 30.
Stewart joins Sparks from Poplar Bluff, Mo., where he served as the Missouri Market CEO for HMA hospitals Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center and Twin Rivers Medical Center since February 2012. Stewart has worked 30 years in hospital management at hospital systems in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Sparks Health System includes Sparks Regional Medical Center, Sparks Clinic, Sparks PremierCare, Sparks Home Health and the Marvin Altman Fitness Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Summit Medical Center is a fully accredited, 103-bed acute care hospital in Van Buren.
Blan was hired by HMA as the Arkansas Market CEO on March 19. According to HMA, Blan stepped in late May, with the announcement made public on May 23. Blan was picked to succeed Melody Trimble who was promoted to president of the HMAs Southern and Western Group, which includes 26 hospitals in seven states. Trimble’s promotion was effective Jan. 1, 2013. The seven-state region is Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.
Stewart said Monday that leadership stability will be a goal, adding that Trimble was in the job for more than three years and he also seeks longevity in the post.
“Prior to that (Blan’s departure), Melody was here for a number of years. ... I plan to be here for a number of years. Most of the places I’ve been, I was there for several years,” Stewart said.
Stewart was hired in Poplar Bluff in February 2012, and oversaw the completion of a $173 million new HMA facility. The city has a population of a little more than 17,000, is located in southeast Missouri about 80 miles north of Jonesboro, Ark., and has a trade area of about 161,000 and is in a county (Butler County) with about 43,000 residents.
Prior to Poplar Bluff, Stewart was a hospital administrator in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area for six years and in Tuscaloosa, Ala., more than nine years.
The Poplar Bluff job also saw Stewart managing two hospital operations and several physician offices that are similar to what he will oversee in the larger Fort Smith market. The Poplar Bluff hospital had 423 licensed beds, fewer than the about 490 at Sparks. An HMA hospital in Kennett, Mo., – Twin Rivers Medical Center – had 116 beds, similar to the 103 beds licensed to Summit Medical in Van Buren.
“This was a great promotion and my wife and I are very excited about the prospects of coming to Fort Smith,” Stewart told The City Wire. “Many people we’ve talked to about our move have said talked about how great the area is. ... Fort smith has a great reputation outside the area.”
Stewart is a native of Alabama. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education & psychology from Jacksonville State University and a master’s degree in education & counseling and a master’s degree in hospital & health administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“Charles Stewart has won many awards for his service, not only to groups like Masons and Rotary Club, but also to the American College of Healthcare Executives and several Chambers of Commerce. He will be a benefit to our community,” noted Hugh Maurras, president of Sparks Health System’s Board of Trustees, in a statement from Sparks.
Angie Marchi, HMA Atlantic Division CEO, said in a statement that Stewart “is the right person to lead Sparks Health System and Summit Medical Center into the future.”